Thursday, January 26, 2012

PCP on DVD - 30 films from 2011 quick reviews

Welcome back to CRAPOLA, and the PCP section – Pop Culture Panorama.  As I mentioned in my previous post, my world got a little busy over the last few months as my wife went through her final trimester, our son was born, and I was also taking MBA courses full time, in addition to working.  Thus, I once again developed a backlog of movies to review.  I have 30 movies that I haven’t reviewed yet from 2011 that I caught on blu-ray recently.  In the effort to save time, here are my quick thoughts on all of them, in alphabetical order.  Now once again I’ll have my backlog cleared out, and can hopefully resume live reviewing of movies as I watch them.

Arthur.  My rating:  6 out of 10.  Russell Brand is touching and enjoyable to watch in this quirky indie-ish romantic comedy.  It’s also nice to see Jennifer Garner play against her regular type, acting here as a cold domineering bitch.

Bad Teacher.  My rating:  5 out of 10.  It has a couple funny moments, but it falls short of its potential given its incredibly talented funny cast.  Jason Segel was probably the best part of this movie.

Bridesmaids.  My rating:  9 out of 10.  Extremely funny and touching at the same time.  If you never saw this, you missed out, it was great.  A very talented and funny ensemble cast turns in a great performance, and it was nice to see Kristen Wiig in a role that didn’t make me want to change the channel, unlike some of her annoying SNL characters.

Captain America: The First Avenger.  My rating:  8 out of 10.  A great telling of the Captain America origin story, filmed with great retro feel.  I’m looking forward to seeing more of this version of the character in The Avengers as well as the inevitable Captain America 2.

The Change-Up.  My rating:  7 out of 10.  This film was actually funnier than I thought it would be.  Maybe because I’m at a transitional spot in my life now with the recent birth of my son, but I enjoyed this film a lot, especially the parts where they are showing the struggles with parenting, especially the middle of the night feedings and diaper changes.  A very funny cast turns in solid performances, and I can definitely watch this film again.

Colombiana.  My rating:  8 out of 10.  Zoe Saldana takes names and kicks ass as an assassin in this action flick from the writers of Taken.  The action sequences and kills are very well done and very entertaining, and Saldana is chilling as the stone-cold killing machine.

Courageous.  My rating:  7 out of 10.  A good film with a pretty strong and powerful message.  Wasn’t in theaters long (which is where I saw this), but comes out on DVD in January 2012.  A bit preachy, but considering that it was filmed by Evangelical Christians, that’s not surprising.

The Dilemma.  My rating:  4 out of 10.  Not particularly funny, despite being marketed as a comedy.  It’s kind of like Vince Vaughn’s other film The Break-Up in which there aren’t enough laughs to overcome a depressing story.  Don’t waste your time.

The rest of the reviews are after the jump, including all the summer blockbusters.

Fast & Furious 5.  My rating:  8 out of 10.  Easily the best in the franchise so far, which is surprising considering it’s the 5th in the series.  The Rock injects the film with some much needed new blood, the cars are still great, and now there’s more violence and gunplay to go along with all the racing.

Friends with Benefits.  My rating:  8 out of 10.  Very funny and touching, and very enjoyable, one of the better romantic comedies I’ve seen in awhile.  Way better than the similar No Strings Attached (see below).  Timberlake & Kunis are great here, but Woody Harrelson steals every scene he is in.

Gnomeo & Juliet.  My rating:  6 out of 10.  This animated retelling of Romeo & Juliet, told with garden gnomes that come to life when there aren’t people around (like Toy Story) is a cute movie for kids, but not the best for grown-ups.  One clever line though is the opening line of the film, where a gnome says “The story you are about to see has been told before.  A lot.”

Green Lantern.  My rating:  7 out of 10.  I had heard such bad things about this film that I was actually surprised I enjoyed it as much as I did.  I’m not as familiar with the DC comics’ universe as I am with the Marvel one, so I went into this film knowing zilch about the Green Lantern or his origin story.  Maybe having zero preconceptions about the character helped with my enjoyment of the movie, because I didn’t care if the film violated canon.

Hall Pass.  My rating:  6 out of 10.  It has a couple funny moments in it, and some touching moments also, but it’s nothing spectacular.  A perfectly average film.

The Hangover Part II.  My rating:  6 out of 10.  Pretty much the exact same movie as the funnier first one.  Only thing different was the setting of Thailand, but otherwise more or less the same movie.  I guess I was disappointed they didn’t do anything really new.

Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Pt 2.  My rating:  9 out of 10.  The Harry Potter franchise comes to an end in grand fashion with this enjoyable movie.  Great action sequences, more action than any prior film in the series, but also some touching moments as well.  I’m going to miss this series coming out in theaters all the time, but thankfully I own them all, and I can’t wait until my son is old enough to enjoy these.

Horrible Bosses.  My rating:  8 out of 10.  This movie was funny and entertaining, and it was especially enjoyable to see the horrible bosses, Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell, and Kevin Spacey, playing characters so opposite their normal types in film.  Very enjoyable movie.

Jumping the Broom.  My rating:  6 out of 10.  A woman from a rich family marries a person from a working class family, and their families hate each other.  Told well here, but nothing that hasn’t been told in a lot of movies before.

Just Go With It.  My rating:  5 out of 10.  A completely ridiculous plot is saved here by funny roles given to Dave Matthews (yes that Dave Matthews) and Nicole Kidman, but the film only generates a few chuckles.  Adam Sandler’s downward slide continues.

No Strings Attached.  My rating:  7 out of 10.  Cute and predictable with some funny moments (especially the period mix CD’s track listing), but not as good as the similarly themed Friends with Benefits.

Priest.  My rating:  6 out of 10.  Cool action sequences and fights, especially from Paul Bettany and Maggie Q, and a different take on vampires than is conventionally shown in most films, but the film feels hollow, like it is lacking some major backstory and character development.  Considering this film is only 87 minutes including credits, that’s probably why it feels that way.

Red State.  My rating:  5 out of 10.  Kevin Smith takes a radical departure from his previous films, and his mocking of the Westboro Baptist “Church” as well as governmental incompetence has its funny moments but its mostly a pretty bleak film.

Scream 4.  My rating:  7 out of 10.  Easily the best film in the Scream series since the original.  Great swerve in the opening sequence and a lot of meta-humor about the horror genre and how it has changed in the 14 years since the first Scream came out.  It was also fun playing the guessing game of who the killer or killers may be, like in the past 3 Scream movies, and I surprisingly didn’t see the reveal coming.

Source Code.  My rating:  7 out of 10.  I’m not sure if the physics of the situation hold up, but it is a very interesting time travel paradox of a movie.  It is a very interesting premise and an enjoyable ride to watch.  It’s kinda like Groundhog Day, but with explosions.

Super 8.  My rating:  7 out of 10.  Alternate title of the flick:  Lens Flare – The Movie.  JJ Abrams loves himself his lens flares, but he has one almost every 30 seconds in this movie and it gets distracting from the ET-like film (but with more guns and violence).  It’s interesting, but not as good as I was hoping considering that JJ was directing and Steven Spielberg produced.

Take Me Home Tonight.  My rating:  7 out of 10.  Surprisingly better than I thought it would be, especially a hilarious special feature on the DVD that has a music video for the movie, and has all the actors from the film acting out scenes from iconic 80s movies.  It’s worth watching that 4 minute sequence, if nothing else, but the film itself is actually worth watching too.

Thor.  My rating: 8 out of 10.  A decent origin story film that sets up the character nicely for The Avengers coming out this year, surprisingly better acted than any comic book adaptation not directed by Christopher Nolan.

The Ward.  My rating:  5 out of 10.  This mostly straight to video (limited film festival releases only) horror movie from John Carpenter is disappointing because it isn’t particularly scary.  Also, (SPOILER WARNING) it seems to rip off a certain John Cusack horror/thriller movie from 9 years ago when it comes to the premise, as revealed at the end of both movies.  That Cusack film did it way better than this.

Warrior.  My rating:  10 out of 10.  Awesome movie.  It’s extremely well acted, especially by Nick Nolte (who got an Oscar nomination for his work) but also by Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy.  Hardy especially looks badass and ripped in this role, so I now feel a lot better about him being the villain in the upcoming Dark Knight Rises.  The fight sequences are great as well, showcasing both the brutality as well as the technical skill required to be a MMA fighter.  Basically, this movie is like The Fighter or Rocky, but for MMA.

X-Men First Class.  My rating:  9 out of 10.  Easily the best X-Film since X-Men 2.  Very enjoyable, even if it does play slight havoc with the origin stories of some of the characters compared to their comic origins.  Michael Fassbender was outstanding as Magneto, and the film has both heart and action, which is a plus for a comic book movie.

Your Highness.  My rating:  3 out of 10.  Easily the worst film I’ve seen all year.  An incredibly stupid stoner movie, even by stoner movie standards, filled with horribly lame and unfunny gay jokes.  Considering this was from the same people as the significantly funnier Pineapple Express, I was extra disappointed by just how awful this film was.

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